Last Chance - Part 1

Scripture: Ezekiel 7:5-7, Matthew 15:3-9, 2 Peter 1:12
Signs of the times are all around us that we are living at the end of world's history. Signs in nature, in the disintegration of the social fabric of society, and in wars point to an age in which our planet is falling apart. This broadcast looks at alcoholism, religious conditions, national debt
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One of the most unusual texts in the Bible is found in Ezekiel 7:5-7, and I'm reading in Moffatt's translation of that text: "Evil on evil, says the Lord, the Eternal, it is coming. The hour has come. The hour is striking and striking at you. The hour and the end; your doom has come." Now that is taken from the writings of the major prophet, Ezekiel. The great book, Revelation, also, beyond all shadow of doubt or question makes it clear that we have reached the last days of this earth's history. I think it is almost trite for me today to say that we are living in a crucial or critical time in the history of this world. World War III could break out tomorrow in five or six different places in this world, and no one would be surprised. The world situation is just that serious.

Men have invented fearful weapons of destruction that could destroy millions in minutes if God should permit it. The economic situation is teetering. Fearful race riots rear their ugly heads in many different places in the world. Nature is on the rampage. Witness the increase of floods, famines, tornadoes and then fearful, destructive earthquakes. Nature sometimes seems to have gone crazy. For further information and confirmation, consult your evening newspaper. Never have we been better educated, and yet never in all our history have we been more worried about our problems and less able to cope with them than we are right now. Let's mention just a few.

There is alcoholism. This is not a problem confined only to America. It is a problem that exists all over the world. I was reading a report not long ago of how certain countries, some fringe countries, in fact, behind the Iron Curtain, were having a terrible problem with alcoholism with youngsters from 9 to 14. Here in America we have at least 10 million alcoholics and one-third of them are women. Fifteen hundred new ones are being made every day. Has anybody offered a solution to this problem? No, there is no present solution.

And then there is the national debt that keeps increasing and increasing, while no one seems to know the answer to what we are going to do. It is hardly safe for a baby to be born anymore, because he inherits such a great debt. If it should keep on and on, I suppose as the years roll by, we would come to the time that the first thing a youngster would do when he became of age would be to declare bankruptcy because he owed so much on the national debt. Now this is bad, friends. World conditions are not good, but there is something that is infinitely worse than that, and it has to do with the religious situation in the world.

Did you ever stop to think of the religious conditions as they prevail away from America? Do you know that there are 700 (million) Hindus who are bound by caste? There are almost 400 million Buddhists who are just plain idol worshipers. There are even more Confucionists who are chained to a dead past. There are over 200 million fatalists, Mohammedans. And there are 800 million rank Pagans in addition to these. And that is not all. Take the religious situation here in America: In our fair country, a so-called Christian nation, we have at least 300 different religious organizations. Each one of them claims to be the right organization, and all of them teach different doctrines, some of them diametrically opposed to each other, so that if you accept one, the others have to be false. Many are so mixed up and so vague that even their leaders admit that they are simply bogged down on theology and uncertainty. So a lot of people here in our own country are filled with fear and anxiety for looking after the things that are coming on the earth. They are turning their eyes heavenward and saying and asking, "Has God forgotten us?"

But, friends, God has not forgotten man. This is not the problem, actually. Man has forsaken God and the truth that God has given us in His holy Book, and in place of it, man has substituted his own ideas. This is where modernism came from, and nationalism, and humanism, and evolution, and all the rest of it. These things were invented by the devil with one thought in mind only, the thought that perhaps peoples' eyes and attention could be directed away from the things that count, the Bible and the Savior of the World, to something else. He doesn't care much what else, just as long as the attention of the people is away from this Book and away from the Savior. And that is where all these things came from. The devil invented them, and almost the entire world bows down before them.

This isn't the first time this has happened, of course. You recall what the Scriptures teach about the Pharisees and the Sadducees. A lot of people have felt that when Jesus was here there was just one church, the Jewish church. That is really not quite right. There were many beliefs in Christ's day. Many of them centered right around Jerusalem, where they had strong centers of worship. The Jewish leaders themselves were divided in their ideas concerning worship and in their doctrine. There were the Pharisees, and the Sadducees as another group, and then the Essenes and the Gnostics and Herodians, all of them had different ideas, and you remember they all made this same mistake: they began to look at the teachings of men and uphold them instead of Holy Writ. Christ commented on this in Matthew 15:3. He said, "Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" And then in verse 9, He said, "In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

Long ago Christ said very plainly that worship which has as its basis the commandment of men is vain. It was vain in the days of Christ, in the days of the Jews, and it is still vain today. Now because this situation exists, there is confusion in the religious world, untold confusion on every hand. We need to remember that this world situation, crucial and critical as it may be, is no surprise to God. No, indeed. The prophecies all through the Bible have described our day in detail. The Scripture paints a perfect picture of the last days, the end of time. God knew all that was coming and made provision for it. He planned to meet it with a very special message for this very special hour in which we find ourselves living. God has always had a very special message of truth for each special crisis hour in the world and that the church has ever been called to meet. Such a message we would call present truth.

Now the term "present truth" comes right out of the Bible from 2 Peter 1:12: "Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth." Notice that expression, friends. The "present truth'' is a term that God Himself invented. It is not something that men made up; it is not something that some church invented; it is God's idea, "present truth." Now Noah could have preached about the second coming. He could have said, "Friends, many, many hundreds of years in the future the Lord Jesus is going to come in the clouds of heaven." Now that would have been true, but it would not have been "present truth." It would not have been the vital message for that hour. There was only one message that really counted. After all, the earth was going to be destroyed in the days of those people. The only thing that really counted was to tell those people that the end was at hand and there was only one way out and that was to get into the ark. Now that is an example of "present truth." Adam could not have preached that. He would have been too early. It had to come at a certain time, and there was only one man qualified to preach it, Noah. He was living just at the right time. It was the message that applied to those people right then, God's great message of "present truth."

Another example is Jonah in Nineveh. The Lord sent Jonah over to Nineveh, saying, "That city is so wicked, I'm going to destroy it. You tell them they have forty days." So Jonah walked over to the city and began to preach. "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be destroyed." And the next day, "Thirty-nine days." And then, "Thirty-eight, thirty-seven, thirty-six, thirty-five." That was "present truth," friends. He could have gone in there and said, "Now I'm just coming over here from the University and I've studied philosophy and I've found a new theory, a wonderful new thought that I want to present to you people." It might even have been true, but there was only one message that really mattered. Nineveh had only forty days. That was the message that must be presented. Moses could not have preached that. Moses was a great man of God, but he couldn't have preached, "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed." He was too early. Peter, who was a mighty preacher, who converted three thousand people in one sermon, could not have preached, "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed." He was too late. The message to Nineveh was "present truth." It meant that immediate crisis was upon the people right then, at that time, and no other time.

John the Baptist is another example. His message was, "Get ready, because in your day and mine, the Messiah is to appear." The only thing that was really important was preaching, "The Messiah is coming." There were other things that were important, but that was the key message. John said, "We talked about it for centuries and now in our day He's going to appear. You hear a very important message." He said, "I want you to get ready. I want you to prepare." And the special message for a special hour was "present truth." Someone before John could never have preached it; they would have been too early. Somebody afterward could not have preached it; they would have been too late.

Now, friends, let's come down to our day. The church and the world face the greatest crisis of all time. I'm sure no one will deny that. If we've ever needed help, we need it today. Of course, the Lord knew that this would be the situation. He wrote this Book. He knows the end from the beginning. He said, "There will come a time in the history of the world when I move in and take things over." But remember, He has made us a promise that He will do nothing like that without first giving everyone a warning. Amos 3:7: "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." There is the promise that God warns people ahead of time. God has kept His word, and He has a very special message of present truth for the world. It is found in the book of Revelation, the very last one in the Bible.

Oh, I know the moment I even mention the book of Revelation, some people will have the tendency to say, "Oh my, the book of Revelation, don't you know that's a closed, sealed book?" No, my friends, I do not know that. I have heard it many times, but you know the book of Revelation says just the opposite. Did you ever notice the name, "Revelation"? You know what that means? It means the uncovering, or unveiling. It means just the opposite of covering up, or sealing, or shutting. It means the opening, the unveiling, or revealing. And now, notice the first words of the book, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ," in Revelation 1:1. This last book in the Bible is the unveiling of the Lord Jesus; and if there is any book in all the Bible that in a very special, wonderful way presents Jesus in all His beauty, His majesty, His glory, it is the book of Revelation. It is His own Book, and it is not closed at all. It is the unveiling of things that have been hidden. Let's read a verse here from Revelation 22:10: "And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand." You see, God's Word says just the opposite. It is not sealed. And then, Revelation 1:1: "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein, for the time is at hand." Isn't that clear, friends? Nothing could be plainer. The book of Revelation never has been closed. It was not God's intention. It is a book which reveals things concerning our own time.

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